On the docket today: a meaty, slippery, jam-packed can of worms. Makes you just lick your lips in anticipation, doesn’t it? Last week’s direct to consumer health testing post got this one going. I mentioned this do-it-yourself health trend comes with both the good and the bad – as yet unproven and unsound alternative therapies like homeopathy being such a potential snare. From that point, a healthy and robust debate ensued in the comment board. Yes, that’s exactly the way it should be. I always appreciate and, indeed, relish the active discourse of our comment board. Folks offer up their experiences, questions, and perspectives in ways that thoughtfully challenge and extend the discussion of the post itself. It’s the beauty of a blog – and the “Internets” as a whole, wouldn’t you say? At times, I find these conversations stand by themselves. Other times, I’ll pick up on a certain thread that I think could use more Primal-based clarification and a further targeted discussion. Today I’m taking up the homeopathy debate and giving the full of my two cents. I’m up for it if you are. Let’s roll up our sleeves and dig in, eh?
One of the great things about our growing community is how people like Denise Minger have emerged from near obscurity to become recognized leaders in certain areas. When it comes to parsing the scientific studies, very few people have the combination of skills, understanding of the scientific method and probability, AND the willingness to dig deep into the minutiae to get to the essence of a study. Denise is one of those rare people. If you haven’t read Denise’s take-down of the China Study, you owe it to yourself to do so.
Lucky for us, Denise has taken the time to dig into the latest research on diet and breast cancer in today’s guest post. (Thank you!) Without further ado, Denise…
If you’ve been scanning the health news lately (or live within earshot of some gloating low-fat adherents), you might’ve noticed a flurry of recent headlines linking fat and cholesterol to breast cancer. In case you haven’t, this should get you up to speed:
Catch the drift?
Plants are not passive things. Oh, they’re not running and fighting and directly acting on the local environment with any sort of mammalian consciousness or intent, but they do employ defenses against hungry animals, insects, intrusive plant life, and disease – just like we do. We differ greatly in a few major areas, of course. Plants make themselves (or their seeds) unpalatable, indigestible, and downright poisonous through the lectins, gluten, and other antinutrients we enjoy railing against; to defend themselves and their offspring (fuzzy “seeds”), animals bare teeth and claws, run incredibly fast, climb trees, burrow into the ground, or wield semiautomatic rifles. But plants’ and animals’ respective modes of management of “internal” threats, like disease or infection, are more similar than not: we all manufacture antioxidants. With animals, the immune system, which defends from pernicious invading forces and helps determine the inflammatory response to harmful stimuli, is well known by all, but there are also the endogenous antioxidants that animals produce to deal with oxidative stress and free radicals. Humans, for example, have the potent arsenal of glutathione, superoxide dismutase, alpha lipoic acid, catalase, and CoQ10. Vitamin C is another common, endogenous animal antioxidant, just not in bats, guinea pigs, tarsiers, monkeys, humans and other apes.
Overburdened doctors sure do love tangible targets, like lipid numbers. They’re easy to hit with drugs. There’s no guesswork – statins and the like actually do lower cholesterol (whether that’s helpful or harmful is the question) – and that makes a physician’s life simpler. Oh, sure, lifestyle changes work, but most patients won’t bother trying them (especially when the changes you prescribe are founded in faulty science and no fun following). Doctors can usually get patients to take a pill.
There’s yet another cholesterol-busting wonder drug on the coming horizon called anacetrapib. A recent eighteen-month trial found that it boosted HDL (from 40 to 101) 138% greater than placebo and slashed LDL (from 81 to 45) 40% better than placebo in patients already taking statins by hampering the effects of the CETP enzyme. Another potent CETP-inhibitor – torcetrapib – made similar headlines in 2006 when it boosted HDL and reduced LDL like nothing else before it, but those headlines were overshadowed when 60% excess mortality occurred in people taking the drug versus those on placebo. So far, anacetrapib seems safe enough, but I’m not holding my breath. I tend to get a little uneasy when we change a single variable and mess with enzymatic pathways in a very complex closed system, with a single goal (raise that HDL, drop that LDL!) in mind. Focusing on numbers that are largely an indication of your lifestyle without doing anything about the lifestyle itself is like pissing into the wind: quite often, it’ll splash all over you, and you’re lucky if it’s just the shoes.
Upfront disclaimer: stress is my big issue. I have most everything about my life pretty well dialed in, but I just don’t handle stress the way I probably should (or the way I tell other people they should).
Most people have the vague notion that meditation is good, usually in a psychological, somehow “not physical” manner. It reduces stress. It’s relaxing. Well, these emotional mindstates have physical or neurological corollaries. You aren’t “just stressed,” as if stress is some concept floating there independent of physiology. Chemicals and hormones induce these states, and meditation can affect their secretion and production.
© 2014 Mark's Daily Apple